The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals represents businesses and individuals in the credit and collection industry in the United States. The most important part of this organization’s code of ethics indicates that it expects its members to comply with federal law governing their practice.
The debt collections industry is legally expected to operate within the constraints of the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Statutes (FDCS). The federal statutes provide guidelines for the debt collection community and protections for consumers and the general public. It is important to note that these statutes concern only legal debt; illegal debt should never have existed in the first place. Separate statutes govern their illegality.
Also not included in the act are the debt collections departments of companies. For instance, if a car company finances a car, and they contact the owner about falling behind in payments, they are not subject to FDCS. FDCS only applies to companies that exist solely to collect the debt.
The main parts of the Fair Debt Collection Statutes include:
- not informing other people, such as friends or relatives, of the debt in an effort to embarrass the consumer;
- making various sorts of threats, such as empty threats of repossession;
- harassing the consumer by, for instance, making unreasonable phone calls or suing in courts far removed from places of residence;
- using obscenity, slurs or demeaning language;
- making various sorts of false claims, such as that the person contacting you is an attorney or that a letter is coming from a court;
- seeking extra collection fees.
According to a March 2010, editorial on their website, The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals takes it as hard as anyone when a rogue debt collector breaks ethical and legal boundaries. In addition, they are working hard with the Better Business Bureau to clear up any complaints against its membership.